Whether it’s a two-foot coffee table tree, minimally decorated, or an aromatic spruce that nearly touches the ceiling, there’s exciting anticipation when tree trimming time comes ’round.
At Karen and Ian Tesar’s house in Wilton, the tree is at the heart of a holiday reunion with family and friends. Karen recalls: “When the children were little, we had a children’s tree, with all the decorations they made at school. Through the years, everybody who came to the house brought an ornament. We have some of my parents’ ornaments and even some very fragile ones that belonged to my grandparents.”
“A Christmas tree is like a time capsule of things done through the year,” says Jennifer Bean, whose Historical Christmas Barn at Lambert House in Wilton has a roomful of trees, filled with ornaments from all over the world. Lydia and John Ryan of Stamford decorate seven different trees throughout the house, using some ornaments she had as a child.
Lori Feldman of Greenwich could be called the “Quintessential Christmas Tree Trimmer.” For 20 years, there were tree-trimming parties in her home and she has a huge collection of ornaments as a result. “I don’t have those trimming parties anymore,” she says, “but the day after Thanksgiving, I start decorating the house for the holidays. This year, instead of red and green, I’m going to give it a different twist and decorate the trees with gold and copper and burlap ribbon bows. After the front yard is cleared of leaves, I cover it with a mesh that twinkles at night.”
For the Feldmans, Christmas has always been a fabulous family event. “All the cousins come over. We bake cookies, fill Christmas stockings. We have about three or four trees, two in the kitchen,” says Lori, who lives in an historic 1700s house that she and her husband renovated. Christmas celebrations include sing-alongs, reindeer bells that ring at 6 a.m. and a Santa at the piano (which plays by itself).
The Feldmans’ holiday has a deeper significance. Lori is Episcopalian and her husband is Jewish. In addition to the Christmas trees and double wreaths at the windows, there’s a Hanukah bush, decorated with dreidels, the spinning tops used in a centuries-old Hanukah game. One of the children reads aloud “The Polar Express,” a much loved, non-religious story that is also a popular movie .
Lori, an interior designer, stretches the holiday mood with New Year’s dinner parties for friends and relatives. “I take all the decorations off the trees and spray them white,” she explains.
Beth Roche of North Stamford has family coming from Texas, Florida, and London. “The grandkids make cookies, supply food for Santa and the reindeer and have to be in bed by 9:30, so they can get up at the crack of dawn,” she declares.
Mary Lou Logan trims the tree at the Wilton Historical Society. “It’s a 1940s look because that’s the cut-off date at the Society. It has old-fashioned, large size colored lights and big round, shiny colored balls,” she says. At home, Mary Lou’s tree has tiny white lights and velvet ornaments trimmed in gold, a pink velvet elephant, a peacock and a lion.
Lynda Campbell lives in a 1700’s house in Wilton and decorates an 8 – 9 foot Frazier pine in her great room. “The tree is lit with an assortment of lights, colored and white in different sizes. I have hand-painted ornaments collected through the years. Some are my grandmother’s,” Lynda says. Every year she gives each of her three daughters an ornament, which is added to the tree. “As soon as they get married, they’ll take these ornaments to decorate their own trees.” She says her tree isn’t “a designer tree” but it’s filled with memories. “One thing I always make sure of is that the trunk of the tree we buy is straight, so that it won’t topple over and stands firm and tall.”
The trimming of trees has been cherished by generations of families, whether it’s outdoors, in a small apartment or on a grand estate. Through the years, it has become a festive symbol of a season to be shared by all. So, how will you trim your tree?